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Much hyping for France’s NUWARD small modular reactor (SMR) design: construction to start in 2030 (but will it be a lemon?)

France’s NUWARD SMR Will Be Test Case for European Early Joint Nuclear Regulatory Review,   Power, 5 June 22. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB), and Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) have picked France’s NUWARD small modular reactor (SMR) design as a test case for an early joint regulatory review for SMRs. The development marks a notable step by European regulators to align practices in a bid to harmonize licensing and regulation for SMRs in the region.

EDF, an entity that is majority held by the French government, on June 2 announced the reactor design will be the subject of the review, which “will be based on the current set of national regulations from each country, the highest international safety objectives and reference levels, and up-to-date knowledge and relevant good practice.”

The technical discussions and collaborative efforts associated with the review will both help ASN, STUK, and SUJB “increase their respective knowledge of each other’s regulatory practices at the European level,” as well as “improve NUWARD’s ability to anticipate the challenges of international licensing and meet future market needs,” it said.

A European Frontrunner

NUWARD, which is still currently in the conceptual design phase, may be a frontrunner in the deployment of SMRs in Europe. It was unveiled in 2019 by EDF, France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), French defense contractor Naval Group, and TechnicAtome, a designer of naval propulsion nuclear reactors and an operator of nuclear defense facilities. The consortium in May tasked Belgian engineering firm Tractabel with completing—by October 2022—conceptual design studies for parts of the conventional island (turbine hall), the balance of plant (water intake and servicing system), and the 3D modeling of the buildings that will house those systems.

Launched as a design that derives from the “best-in-class French technologies” and “more than 50 years of experience in pressurized water reactor (PWR) design, development, construction, and operation,” the design proposes a 340-MWe power plant configured with twin 170-MWe modules. NUWARD is based on an integrated PWR design with full integration of the main components within the reactor pressure vessel, including the control rod drive mechanisms, compact steam generators, and pressurizer, CEA says.

As “the most compact reactor in the world,” the design is well-suited for power generation, including replacing coal and gas-fired generation, as well as for electrification of medium-sized cities and isolated industrial sites, CEA says. According to Tractabel, the next phase of the NUWARD project—the basic design completion—is slated to begin in 2023. Construction of a reference plant is expected to start in 2030.

Crucial to SMR Deployment: Harmonization of Regulations

On Thursday, EDF noted that while SMR technology innovation is important, deployment of SMRs, which will be integral to the energy transition toward carbon neutrality, will require “a serial production process and a clear regulatory framework.” Harmonization of regulations and requirements in Europe and elsewhere will be “an essential element to support aspirations of standardization of design, in-factory series production and limited design adaptations to country-specific requirements,” it said.  

Several efforts to encourage collaboration on SMR licensing and regulatory alignment are already underway in Europe. These include the European SMR Partnership led by FORATOM, the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe, and the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP), as well as the Nuclear Harmonisation and Standardisation Initiative (NHSI), which the International Atomic Energy Agency launched in March.

The European Union is separately spearheading the ELSMOR project, which aims to enhance the European capability to assess and develop the innovative light water reactor (LWR) SMR concepts and their safety features, as well as sharing that information with policymakers and regulators.

SMRs Part of Future Plans for France, Czech Republic, Finland

Participation of the three countries—France, the Czech Republic, and Finland—is noteworthy for their near-term plans to expand generation portfolios with new nuclear. French President Emmanuel Macron on Feb. 10 said France will build six new nuclear reactors and will consider building eight more. Macron also notably said $1.1 billion would be made available through the France 2030 re-industrialization plan for the NUWARD SMR project.

In the Czech Republic, which has six existing nuclear reactors that generate about a third of its power, energy giant ČEZ has designated a site at the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant as a potential site for an SMR. ČEZ has signed a memorandum of understanding on SMRs with NuScale, and it also has cooperation agreements with GE Hitachi, Rolls-Royce, EDF, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, and Holtec.

Finland has five operating reactors, and it is in the process of starting up Olkiluoto 3, a 1.6-GW EPR (EDF’s next-generation nuclear reactor), whose construction began in 2005. Two others were planned: Olkiluoto 4 and Hanhikivi 1. Early in May, however, Finnish-led consortium Fennovoima said it had scrapped an engineering, procurement, and construction contract for Russia’s state-owned Rosatom to build the 1.2-GW Hanhikivi 1, citing delays and increased risks due to the war in Ukraine. On May 24, Fennovoima withdrew the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant construction license application.

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is actively developing an SMR intended for district heating. While Finland now mostly relies on coal for district heat, it has pledged to phase out coal by 2029. VTT, notably, coordinates with the ELSMOR project for European SMR licensing practices. In addition, VTT says it is leading a work package related to the new McSAFER project, which is developing next-generation calculation tools for the modeling of SMR physics.

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

June 6, 2022 Posted by | France, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

South Korean government to massively fund developing small nuclear reactors, partnering with USA companies NuScam and Terra Power.

Policymakers endorse massive injection of state money for SMR development

Lim Chang-won Reporter(cwlim34@ajunews.com) | Lim Chang-won Reporter, email : cwlim34@ajunews.com© Aju Business Daily & www.ajunews.com 
 June 2, 2022, SEOUL
— With the blessing of President Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea’s nuclear power industry grabbed a new opportunity to rebound after policymakers endorsed a massive injection of state money for the development of a relatively safe small modular reactor called “i-SMR” that can be operated in an underground water tank and cooled naturally in case of emergency. 

Yoon, who took office in early May, dumped his predecessor’s “nuclear-exit” policy of phasing out nuclear power plants and vowed to actively revitalize South Korea’s struggling nuclear power industry and develop next-generation reactors, insisting that nuclear power plants are an essential factor in restoring industrial competitiveness.

Up to Yoon’s expectations, the proposed development of i-SMRs has passed a preliminary feasibility study, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. Some 399.2 billion won ($319.9 million) will be spent from 2023 to 2028 for the i-SMR project aimed at developing a reactor with a power generation capacity of less than 300 megawatts. ……..

Mainly through partnerships with American companies, South Korean companies have jumped into the SMR market, such as Hyundai E&C and Doosan Enerbility, a key player in South Korea’s nuclear industry that tied up with NuScale Power, an SMR company in the United States.

 In May 2022, Samsung C&T strengthened its partnership with NuScale Power to cooperate in SMR projects in Romania and other East European countries. SK Group tied up with TerraPower for cooperation in the development and commercialization of SMR technology.

Separately, the government approved the proposed spending of 348.2 billion won from 2023 to 2030 to develop technologies for the dismantling of defunct reactors………

Hyundai E&C has tied up with its American partner, Holtec International, for the decommissioning of defunct nuclear power plants, starting with the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan in Westchester County. https://www.ajudaily.com/view/20220602110820983

June 6, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, South Korea | Leave a comment

Co-Founder of Green and Blacks Calls Out Small Modular Reactors: They Would Produce 30 Times As Much Nuclear Waste

While Nuclear Luvvies and Lords in Cumbria Big Up Small Modular Reactors being touted by Rolls Royce, science is stacked against them. IF science is genuinely allied to ethics and a living planet then Small Modular Reactors (or any nuclear fuelled plan ) should not even be on the table.

Co-Founder of Green and Blacks Calls Out Small Modular Reactors: They Would Produce 30 Times As Much Nuclear Waste — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

ular Reactors
(or any nuclear fuelled plan) should not even be on the table. Craig Sams
the co-founder of Green and Blacks has written on social media: “This was
what I wrote 12 years ago. The New Scientist now reports that SMRs (Small
Modular Reactors) produce 30 times as much nuclear waste for the amount of
electricity produced and its more complex. I realise Boris upset everyone
by boozing when he should’ve been following his own rules, but condemning
future generations to even worse nuclear waste problems than we already
have is the real crime against humanity. No more nuclear. The French
nuclear power stations are corroding badly and nobody’s sure what to do.
The Irish Sea is still contaminating fish. We had to stop serving laver
bread in our restaurant Seed back in 1970 because of radioactive waste
contamination and things have only got worse since then. Wind, solar,
geothermal, oil,gas, anything but nuclear”

 Radiation Free Lakeland 2nd June 2022

June 4, 2022 Posted by | environment, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors produce ’35x more waste’ than big plants

Mini nuclear reactors that are supposed to usher in an era of cheaper and
safer nuclear power may generate up to 35 times more waste to produce the
same amount of power as a regular plant, according to a study.

A team of researchers at Stanford University and the University of British Columbia
came to this conclusion after studying a design from each of three small
modular reactor (SMR) manufacturers: NuScale Power, Toshiba, and
Terrestrial Energy.

The study, published this week, found that not only did
those particular SMR approaches generate five times the spent nuclear fuel
(SNF), 30 times the long-lived equivalent waste, and 35 times the low and
intermediate-level waste (LILW), their waste is also more reactive,
therefore more dangerous and consequently harder to dispose of.

 The Register 2nd June 2022

https://www.theregister.com/2022/06/02/nuclear_reactors_waste/

June 4, 2022 Posted by | NORTH AMERICA, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste from small modular reactors

Lindsay M. Krall https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6962-7608 Lindsay.Krall@skb.seAllison M. Macfarlane https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8359-9324, and Rodney C. Ewing https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9472-4031Authors Info & Affiliations

May 31, 2022  Small modular reactors (SMRs), proposed as the future of nuclear energy, have purported cost and safety advantages over existing gigawatt-scale light water reactors (LWRs). However, few studies have assessed the implications of SMRs for the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The low-, intermediate-, and high-level waste stream characterization presented here reveals that SMRs will produce more voluminous and chemically/physically reactive waste than LWRs, which will impact options for the management and disposal of this waste. Although the analysis focuses on only three of dozens of proposed SMR designs, the intrinsically higher neutron leakage associated with SMRs suggests that most designs are inferior to LWRs with respect to the generation, management, and final disposal of key radionuclides in nuclear waste.

Abstract

Small modular reactors (SMRs; i.e., nuclear reactors that produce <300 MWelec each) have garnered attention because of claims of inherent safety features and reduced cost. However, remarkably few studies have analyzed the management and disposal of their nuclear waste streams. Here, we compare three distinct SMR designs to an 1,100-MWelec pressurized water reactor in terms of the energy-equivalent volume, (radio-)chemistry, decay heat, and fissile isotope composition of (notional) high-, intermediate-, and low-level waste streams. Results reveal that water-, molten salt–, and sodium-cooled SMR designs will increase the volume of nuclear waste in need of management and disposal by factors of 2 to 30. The excess waste volume is attributed to the use of neutron reflectors and/or of chemically reactive fuels and coolants in SMR designs. That said, volume is not the most important evaluation metric; rather, geologic repository performance is driven by the decay heat power and the (radio-)chemistry of spent nuclear fuel, for which SMRs provide no benefit. 

 SMRs will not reduce the generation of geochemically mobile 129I, 99Tc, and 79Se fission products, which are important dose contributors for most repository designs. In addition, SMR spent fuel will contain relatively high concentrations of fissile nuclides, which will demand novel approaches to evaluating criticality during storage and disposal. Since waste stream properties are influenced by neutron leakage, a basic physical process that is enhanced in small reactor cores, SMRs will exacerbate the challenges of nuclear waste management and disposal.

In recent years, the number of vendors promoting small modular reactor (SMR) designs, each having an electric power capacity <300 MWelec, has multiplied dramatically (12). Most recently constructed reactors have electric power capacities >1,000 MWelec and utilize water as a coolant. Approximately 30 of the 70 SMR designs listed in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Advanced Reactors Information System are considered “advanced” reactors, which call for seldom-used, nonwater coolants (e.g., helium, liquid metal, or molten salt) (3). Developers promise that these technologies will reduce the financial, safety, security, and waste burdens associated with larger nuclear power plants that operate at the gigawatt scale (3). Here, we make a detailed assessment of the impact of SMRs on the management and disposal of nuclear waste relative to that generated by larger commercial reactors of traditional design.

Nuclear technology developers and advocates often employ simple metrics, such as mass or total radiotoxicity, to suggest that advanced reactors will generate “less” spent nuclear fuel (SNF) or high-level waste (HLW) than a gigawatt-scale pressurized water reactor (PWR), the prevalent type of commercial reactor today. For instance, Wigeland et al. (4) suggest that advanced reactors will reduce the mass and long-lived radioactivity of HLW by 94 and ∼80%, respectively. These bulk metrics, however, offer little insight into the resources that will be required to store, package, and dispose of HLW (5). Rather, the safety and the cost of managing a nuclear waste stream depend on its fissile, radiological, physical, and chemical properties (6). Reactor type, size, and fuel cycle each influence the properties of a nuclear waste stream, which in addition to HLW, can be in the form of low- and intermediate-level waste (LILW) (68). Although the costs and time line for SMR deployment are discussed in many reports, the impact that these fuel cycles will have on nuclear waste management and disposal is generally neglected (911).

Here, we estimate the amount and characterize the nature of SNF and LILW for three distinct SMR designs. From the specifications given in the NuScale integral pressurized water reactor (iPWR) certification application, we analyze basic principles of reactor physics relevant to estimating the volumes and composition of iPWR waste and then, apply a similar methodology to a back-end analysis of sodium- and molten salt–cooled SMRs. Through this bottom-up framework, we find that, compared with existing PWRs, SMRs will increase the volume and complexity of LILW and SNF. This increase of volume and chemical complexity will be an additional burden on waste storage, packaging, and geologic disposal. Also, SMRs offer no apparent benefit in the development of a safety case for a well-functioning geological repository.

1. SMR Neutronics and Design………………

2. Framework for Waste Comparison………….

3. SMR Waste Streams: Volumes and Characteristics………….

………….. 

3.3.2. Corroded vessels from molten salt reactors.

Molten salt reactor vessel lifetimes will be limited by the corrosive, high-temperature, and radioactive in-core environment (2324). In particular, the chromium content of 316-type stainless steel that constitutes a PWR pressure vessel is susceptible to corrosion in halide salts (25). Nevertheless, some developers, such as ThorCon, plan to adopt this stainless steel rather than to qualify a more corrosion-resistant material for the reactor vessel (25).

Terrestrial Energy may construct their 400-MWth IMSR vessel from Hastelloy N, a nickel-based alloy that has not been code certified for commercial nuclear applications by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2627). Since this nickel-based alloy suffers from helium embrittlement (27), Terrestrial Energy envisions a 7-y lifetime for their reactor vessel (28). Molten salt reactor vessels will become contaminated by salt-insoluble fission products (28) and will also become neutron-activated through exposure to a thermal neutron flux greater than 1012 neutrons/cm2-s (29). Thus, it is unlikely that a commercially viable decontamination process will enable the recycling of their alloy constituents. Terrestrial Energy’s 400-MWth SMR might generate as much as 1.0 m3/GWth-y of steel or nickel alloy in need of management and disposal as long-lived LILW (Fig. 1Table 1, and SI Appendix, Fig. S3 and section 2) [on original]…………

4. Management and Disposal of SMR Waste

The excess volume of SMR wastes will bear chemical and physical differences from PWR waste that will impact their management and final disposal. …………………….

5. Conclusions

This analysis of three distinct SMR designs shows that, relative to a gigawatt-scale PWR, these reactors will increase the energy-equivalent volumes of SNF, long-lived LILW, and short-lived LILW by factors of up to 5.5, 30, and 35, respectively. These findings stand in contrast to the waste reduction benefits that advocates have claimed for advanced nuclear technologies. More importantly, SMR waste streams will bear significant (radio-)chemical differences from those of existing reactors. Molten salt– and sodium-cooled SMRs will use highly corrosive and pyrophoric fuels and coolants that, following irradiation, will become highly radioactive. Relatively high concentrations of 239Pu and 235U in low–burnup SMR SNF will render recriticality a significant risk for these chemically unstable waste streams.

SMR waste streams that are susceptible to exothermic chemical reactions or nuclear criticality when in contact with water or other repository materials are unsuitable for direct geologic disposal. Hence, the large volumes of reactive SMR waste will need to be treated, conditioned, and appropriately packaged prior to geological disposal. These processes will introduce significant costs—and likely, radiation exposure and fissile material proliferation pathways—to the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and entail no apparent benefit for long-term safety.

Although we have analyzed only three of the dozens of proposed SMR designs, these findings are driven by the basic physical reality that, relative to a larger reactor with a similar design and fuel cycle, neutron leakage will be enhanced in the SMR core. Therefore, most SMR designs entail a significant net disadvantage for nuclear waste disposal activities. Given that SMRs are incompatible with existing nuclear waste disposal technologies and concepts, future studies should address whether safe interim storage of reactive SMR waste streams is credible in the context of a continued delay in the development of a geologic repository in the United States.

Supporting Information

Appendix 01 (PDF)

Note

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. E.J.S. is a guest editor invited by the Editorial Board.

References……………………………..  https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2111833119

June 2, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment

Elon Musk’s satellites for the war in Ukraine

From CNGNN Italy, 29 May 22, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world whose wealth nearly doubled in the two pandemic years, offered $ 44 billion to buy Twitter, which he says would become “the platform for free speech across the country world“. Elon Musk owns SpaceX, an aerospace company based in California.

SpaceX makes rockets and satellites to build Starlink, a broadband Internet system that once is completed will cover the entire world. SpaceX has so far put 2,500 satellites into orbit with rockets carrying 50 satellites at a time and plans to place 42,000 Starlink satellites in low orbit occupying 80% of this space.

Starlink was presented as a commercial satellite system but has fundamental military applications. In fact, satellites in low orbit transmit signals at a much higher speed than those in geosynchronous orbit around the equator. The US Army and Air Force fund and test Starlink to use its military capabilities. For example, last March, the US Air Force reported that conventional and nuclear dual-capacity F-35A fighters had carried out data transmission using Start link satellites at speed 30 times faster than traditional connections.SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are already being used by the Ukrainian military to guide drones, artillery shells, and missiles into Russian positions. This is confirmed by General Dickinson, head of the US Space Command, who declared to the Senate that “Elon Musk’s Starlink demonstrates in Ukraine what the mega-constellations of satellites can do“. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is part of the group of ten largest commercial satellite operators collaborating with US Space Command at the Vandenberg military space base in California.

May 30, 2022 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

”Commercial” nuclear power in space? – it’s all about weapons and war.

US military wants to demonstrate new nuclear power systems in space by 2027,By Elizabeth Howell , Space.com , 29 May 22,

That’s just one year after DARPA plans to test out its own nuclear power prototypes.Add the Defense Innovation Unit to a growing list of U.S. government organizations furthering their work in nuclear power in pace.

The organization, which seeks to get the military ready to use emergent commercial products, announced two prototype contracts on May 17 “to demonstrate the next generation of nuclear propulsion and power capability for spacecraft.” The ultimate aim is an orbital flight demonstration in 2027, DIU officials said in a statement(opens in new tab)

The contracts went to two companies, Ultra Safe Nuclear and Avalanche Energy,  to demonstrate nuclear propulsion and power capabilities for small spacecraft that would operate in cislunar (Earth-moon) space. (The values of the contracts were not disclosed in the release.)

It’s part of the U.S. military’s pressing focus on cislunar activities to keep an eye on commercial and government activities that will ramp up there in the coming decades, including the international NASA-led Artemis program that seeks to put people on the moon in the 2020s…………………………   https://www.space.com/nuclear-power-propulsion-space-defense-innovation-unit-contracts

May 30, 2022 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear Fusion Is Already Facing a Fuel Crisis

It doesn’t even work yet, but nuclear fusion has encountered a shortage of tritium, the key fuel source for the most prominent experimental reactors

” …………………  Like many of the most prominent experimental nuclear fusion reactors, ITER relies on a steady supply of both deuterium and tritium for its experiments. Deuterium can be extracted from seawater, but tritium—a radioactive isotope of hydrogen—is incredibly rare.

Atmospheric levels peaked in the 1960s, before the ban on testing nuclear weapons, and according to the latest estimates there is less than 20 kg (44 pounds) of tritium on Earth right now. And as ITER drags on, years behind schedule and billions over budget, our best sources of tritium to fuel it and other experimental fusion reactors are slowly disappearing.

Right now, the tritium used in fusion experiments like ITER, and the smaller JET tokamak in the UK, comes from a very specific type of nuclear fission reactor called a heavy-water moderated reactor. But many of these reactors are reaching the end of their working life, and there are fewer than 30 left in operation worldwide—20 in Canada, four in South Korea, and two in Romania, each producing about 100 grams of tritium a year. (India has plans to build more, but it is unlikely to make its tritium available to fusion researchers.)

But this is not a viable long-term solution—the whole point of nuclear fusion is to provide a cleaner and safer alternative to traditional nuclear fission power. “It would be an absurdity to use dirty fission reactors to fuel ‘clean’ fusion reactors,” says Ernesto Mazzucato, a retired physicist who has been an outspoken critic of ITER, and nuclear fusion more generally, despite spending much of his working life studying tokamaks.

The second problem with tritium is that it decays quickly. It has a half-life of 12.3 years, which means that when ITER is ready to start deuterium-tritium operations (in, as it happens, about 12.3 years), half of the tritium available today will have decayed into helium-3. The problem will only get worse after ITER is switched on, when several more deuterium-tritium (D-T) successors are planned.

These twin forces have helped turn tritium from an unwanted byproduct of nuclear fission that had to be carefully disposed of into, by some estimates, the most expensive substance on Earth. It costs $30,000 per gram, and it’s estimated that working fusion reactors will need up to 200 kg of it a year. To make matters worse, tritium is also coveted by nuclear weapons programs, because it helps makes bombs more powerful—although militaries tend to make it themselves, because Canada, which has the bulk of the world’s tritium production capacity, refuses to sell it for nonpeaceful purposes.

…………………………………   the mainstream fusion community is still pinning its hopes on ITER, despite the potential supply problems for its key fuel. “Fusion is really, really difficult, and anything other than deuterium-tritium is going to be 100 times more difficult,” says Willms. “A century from now maybe we can talk about something else.”   https://www.wired.com/story/nuclear-fusion-is-already-facing-a-fuel-crisis/

May 21, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, technology | Leave a comment

Don’t hold your breath waiting for NuScam’s small nuclear reactors to be profitable

As for valuation, the company is being valued on significant growth occurring in the potentially far distant future, so prospective investors would essentially be betting on the company’s ability to sell operating units at scale and profitably…and to do so in the coming near-to-medium term rather than the 2030s or beyond.

Spring Valley Completes NuScale Merger, But Growth Timing Is Unknown,  Donovan JonesMarketplace, Author of IPO Edge.  May 18, 2022 A Quick Take On NuScale.

Spring Valley Acquisition Corp. (NYSE:SMRhas announced the closing of its initial business combination with NuScale Power for an estimated enterprise value of approximately $1.9 billion.

NuScale has developed proprietary nuclear small modular reactors for utilities and industrial customers.

It is likely that NuScale will require significant time to generate material revenue growth and even longer for profits

…………….  Business Combination Terms

The Spring Valley Acquisition SPAC originally raised $230 million in gross proceeds in its IPO in late 2020, selling a total of 23 million units including underwriter allotments.

The previously announced transaction included a PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) which rose to $235 million from Samsung C&T, DS Private Equity, Segra Capital Management and Spring Valley’s sponsor Pearl Energy.

The deal will provide NuScale with gross proceeds of up to $413 million to pursue its commercialization initiatives and growth plans.

Major NuScale investor Fluor Corporation will retain approximately 60% ownership of NuScale, with other legacy shareholders retaining approximately 20.4%, the Spring Valley SPAC public shareholders having 6.5%, the Spring Valley Acquisition Sponsor retaining 2.4% and PIPE investors purchasing 10.7% of the outstanding NuScale stock.

……………….  As for valuation, the company is being valued on significant growth occurring in the potentially far distant future, so prospective investors would essentially be betting on the company’s ability to sell operating units at scale and profitably…and to do so in the coming near-to-medium term rather than the 2030s or beyond.

……………..  In any event, it is likely that NuScale will require significant time to generate material revenue growth and even longer for profits, so I’m on Hold over the near term for SMR.  https://seekingalpha.com/article/4512948-spring-valley-completes-nuscale-merger-but-growth-timing-is-unknown

May 19, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

US military wants nuclear rocket ideas for missions near the moon

The space agency is collaborating on the DRACO project “using non-reimbursable engagement with industry participants

Space.com, By Elizabeth Howell published 1 day ago

The U.S. military hopes to see a flight demonstration in 2026. The U.S. military is ready to take the next step in developing a nuclear rocket to help monitor Earth-moon space, an area it has deemed a high strategic priority.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced May 4 that it’s seeking proposals for the second and third phases of a project to design, develop and assemble a nuclear thermal rocket engine for an expected flight demonstration in Earth orbit by 2026.

“These propulsive capabilities will enable the United States to enhance its interests in space and to expand possibilities for NASA’s long-duration human spaceflight missions,” DARPA officials said in a statement.

The proposals will support DARPA’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program, which aims to develop a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system for use in Earth-moon space. DRACO is part of the U.S. military’s larger push to keep an eye on cislunar (Earth-moon) space as government and commercial activities increase in this sector in the coming decade…………

Phase 1 for Draco included awards in April 2021 for General Atomics, Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin. The phase was scheduled to last 18 months across two independent tracks. 

Track A, for General Atomics, included the preliminary design of a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor, along with a propulsion subsystem. Track B, pursued by Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin independently, aimed to create an “operational system spacecraft concept” to meet future mission objectives, including a demonstration system.

In September 2020, DARPA also awarded a $14 million task order for DRACO to Gryphon Technologies, a company in Washington, D.C. that provides engineering and technical solutions to national security organizations…………

The space agency is collaborating on the DRACO project “using non-reimbursable engagement with industry participants where technology investments have common interest to both organizations,” NASA officials wrote in the $26 billion budget request for fiscal year 2023, which was released in March. ………. https://www.space.com/darpa-nuclear-rocket-earth-moon-space

May 12, 2022 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Canada’s Green Party speaks out persuasively against small nuclear reactors

Sask. government criticized over exploration of SMR technology, David Prisciak, CTV News Regina Digital Content Producer,  May 10, 2022 Saskatchewan Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter accused the government of “kicking the climate crisis down the road,” by exploring small modular reactor (SMR) technology in a press conference Monday.

Hunter was present for a Monday morning event in front of the legislature, where she called on the provincial government to scrap its bid to explore SMR technology.

“We do not have the time for fairy tales that take us far into the future,” she said. “We don’t have 10 years to come up with a solution. (Premier) Scott Moe and the Sask. Party, they’re just kicking the climate crisis down the road like they always do.”

Hunter argued that the government’s move towards nuclear energy is not aiding the fight against climate change.

They claim that this is because they suddenly care about the climate crisis and are looking for solutions,” she said. “If that was the case, we would be installing immediate solutions of green energy: solar, wind, geothermal.”

“This province has the best solar gain in all of Canada and we have some of the best opportunities for wind energy.”…………………

Amita Kuttner, the interim leader of the Green Party of Canada, also attended the event in front of the legislature, and criticized the proposed move to SMR technology as the wrong approach.

What you are trading it for is again corporate power,” they explained. “Which is not solving the underlying causes of the climate emergency.”

Saskatchewan is currently in a partnership with British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario to collaborate on the advancement of SMR technology. ……..  https://regina.ctvnews.ca/sask-government-criticized-over-exploration-of-smr-technology-1.5895830

May 10, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 1 Comment

Diseconomics and other factors mean that small nuclear reactors are duds

Such awkward realities won’t stop determined lobbyists and legislators from showering tax funds on SMR developers, seen as the industry’s last hope of revival (at least for now). With little private capital at stake, taxpayers bearing most of the cost, and customers bearing the cost-overrun and performance risks190 (as they did in the similarly structured WPPSS nuclear fiasco four decades ago), some SMRs may get built. I expect they’ll fail for the same fundamental reasons as their predecessors, then be quickly forgotten as marketers substitute the next shiny object

A lifetime of such disappointments has not yet induced sobriety. As long as the industry can fund potent lobbying that leverages orders of magnitude more federal funding, the party will carry on.

US nuclear power: Status, prospects, and climate implications, Science Direct,  Amory B.Lovins,  Stanford University, USA    The Electricity JournalVolume 35, Issue 4, May 2022, 

”…………………………………………………….. Advanced” or “Small Modular Reactors,” SMRs174, seek to revive and improve concepts generally tried and rejected decades ago due to economic175, technical176, safety177, or proliferation178 flaws179. BNEF estimates that early SMRs might generate at ~10× current solar prices, falling by severalfold after tens of GW were built, but not by enough to come anywhere near competing. Despite strong Federal support, proposed projects are challenged to find enough customers180 and markets181. Developers and nations are also pursuing >50 diverse designs—a repeatedly reproven failure condition.

SMRs’ basic economics are worse than meets the eye, because their goalposts keep receding. Reactors are built big because, for physics reasons, they don’t scale down well. Small reactors, say their more thoughtful advocates, will produce electricity initially about twice as costly as today’s big ones, which in turn, as noted earlier, are ~3–13× costlier per MWh than modern renewables (let alone efficiency). But those renewables will get another ~2× cheaper (say BNEF and NREL) by the time SMRs could be tested and start to scale toward the mass production that’s supposed to cut their costs. High volume cannot possibly cut SMRs’ costs by 2 × (3 to 13) × 2-fold, or ~12× to ~52×.

 Indeed, SMRs couldn’t compete even if the steam they produce to turn the turbine were free. Why not? In big light-water reactors, ~78–87% of the prohibitive capital cost buys non-nuclear components like the turbine, generator, heat sink, switchyard, and controls. Thus even if the nuclear island were free and a shared non-nuclear remainder were still at GW scale so it didn’t cost more per unit182, the whole SMR complex would still be manyfold out of the money.

SMRs are also too late. Despite streamlined (if not premature) licensing and many billions in Federal funding commitments, the first SMR module delivery isn’t expected until 2029. That’s in the same smaller-LWR project that just lost over half its subscribed sales as customers considered cost, timing, and risk183, and may lose the rest if they read a soberly scathing 2022 critique184. That analysis found that the vendor claims very low financial and performance risks but opaquely imposes them all on the customers. The first “advanced” reactors (a sodium-cooled fast reactor and a high-temperature gas reactor), ambitiously skipping over prototypes, are hoped by some advocates to start up in 2027–28. DOE in 2017 rosily assessed that if such initial projects succeeded, a first commercial demonstrator would then take another 6–8 years’ construction and 5 years’ operation before commercial orders, implying commercial generation at earliest in the late 2030s, more plausibly in the 2040s. But the US Administration plans to decarbonize the grid with renewables by 2035, preëmpting SMRs’ climate mission185.

An additional challenge would be siting new SMRs or clusters of them (which cuts cost but means that a problem with one SMR can affect, or block access to, others at the same site, as was predicted and experienced at Fukushima Daiichi). It looks harder to secure numerous sites and offtake agreements than a few. It would take roughly 50 SMR orders to justify building a factory to start capturing economies of production scale, and hundreds or thousands of SMRs to start seeing meaningful, though inadequate, cost reductions. A study assuming high electricity demand and cheap SMRs estimated a US need for just 350 SMRs by 2050186; some advocates expect far more. It’s hard to imagine how dozens of States and hundreds of localities could quickly approve those sites, especially given internal NRC dissension on basic SMR safety187 and the obvious financial risks188.

No credible path could deploy enough SMR capacity to replace inevitably retiring reactors timely and produce significant additional output by then—but efficiency and renewables could readily do that and more, based on their deployment rates and price behaviors observed in the US and global marketplace. For example189, through 2020, CAISO (wholesale power manager for a seventh of the US economy) reported 120 GW of renewables and storage in its interconnection queue, plus 158 GW in the non-ISO West; just solar-paired-with-storage projects in CAISO rose to over 71 GW by 5 Jan 2022, with the paired solar totaling nearly 64 GW—all three orders of magnitude more than the first 77-MW NuScale module hoped to enter service many years later.

Such awkward realities won’t stop determined lobbyists and legislators from showering tax funds on SMR developers, seen as the industry’s last hope of revival (at least for now). With little private capital at stake, taxpayers bearing most of the cost, and customers bearing the cost-overrun and performance risks190 (as they did in the similarly structured WPPSS nuclear fiasco four decades ago), some SMRs may get built. I expect they’ll fail for the same fundamental reasons as their predecessors, then be quickly forgotten as marketers substitute the next shiny object. 

A lifetime of such disappointments has not yet induced sobriety. As long as the industry can fund potent lobbying that leverages orders of magnitude more federal funding, the party will carry on. But where does its seemingly perpetual disappointment leave the Earth’s imperiled climate?…………………………. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040619022000483

May 9, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

NASA Is Sending Artificial Female Bodies to the Moon to Study Radiation Risks.

Gizmodo, Passant Rabie, May 3, 22, Helga and Zohar are headed for a trip around the Moon on an important mission, measuring radiation risks for female astronauts for the first time.

The inanimate pair are manikins modelled after the body of an adult woman. For the Artemis 1 mission, in which an uncrewed Orion capsule will travel to the Moon and back, one of the manikins will be outfitted with a newly developed radiation protection vest. Helga and Zohar, as they’re called, won’t be alone, as they’ll be joined by a third manikin that will collect data about flight accelerations and vibrations. Artemis 1 is scheduled to blast off later this year.

The Artemis program aims to return humans to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years, but this time the space agency has vowed to land the first woman on the dusty lunar surface.

Women appear to be at a greater risk of suffering from the harmful effects of space radiation, so they have different radiation boundary levels than their male colleagues. Studies of radiation exposure for men and women indicate a higher chance of women developing cancer, while other research has found that space radiation is likely to affect female reproductive health…………………………………. https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2022/05/nasa-is-sending-artificial-female-bodies-to-the-moon-to-study-radiation-risks/

May 3, 2022 Posted by | space travel, USA, women | Leave a comment

Safety concerns about NuScam’s much touted ”small nuclear reactor”

U.S. nuclear power agency seeks staff documentation of NuScale’s quake protection,   By Timothy Gardner,   WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) – An official with the U.S. nuclear power regulator has ordered staff to supply documents that could lead to a review of a 2020 approval of a new type of nuclear power reactor after an engineer raised concerns about its ability to withstand earthquakes, documents showed on Wednesday. Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Chris Reese, Kenneth Maxwell and Lisa Shumaker .

 Dan Dorman, the executive director for operations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), reviewed a complaint by John Ma, an engineer at the agency, about its approval of the design of NuScale’s nuclear power plant.

NuScale, majority owned by construction and engineering company Fluor Corp (FLR.N), which got approval for the design of a 50-megwatt small modular reactor (SMR), is hoping to build the Carbon Free Power Project with multiple reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory, with the first coming online in 2029 and full plant operation in 2030.

Some see SMRs such as NuScale’s as a way to cut emissions from fossil fuels and to potentially reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian oil and gas. NuScale also wants to build the plants in Poland and Kazakhstan.

In an internal document Ma wrote to NRC officials soon after the 2020 approval, he alleged the design of the building intended to enclose the reactor units and its spent fuel pool did not provide assurance it could withstand the largest earthquake considered without collapsing and may be vulnerable to smaller earthquakes.

“Collapse of the reactor building … could potentially cause an early and large release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere and ground, which could kill people,” Ma wrote.

In February, Dorman wrote to Ma that he concluded the NRC’s basis for accepting NuScale’s measure of strength for the reactor’s building design “was not sufficiently documented,” documents posted on the NRC website on Wednesday showed.

Dorman ordered the agency’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation to document its evaluation of NuScale’s “stress averaging approach” and, if necessary, to update the application and evaluate whether there are “any impacts” to the 2020 design approval.

It was uncertain whether the additional actions would affect the project’s timeline which has been delayed several times………….

A science advocacy group said the concerns Ma raised were troubling.

“NuScale’s business case is based on its assertion that it is a safer nuclear reactor. Now it’s time to prove it by addressing these safety concerns,” said Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists.   https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-nuclear-power-regulator-seeks-documents-nuscales-protection-against-quakes-2022-04-27/

April 30, 2022 Posted by | safety, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Photovoltaics vs. nuclear power on Mars

Photovoltaics vs. nuclear power on Mars   https://www.pv-magazine-australia.com/2022/04/29/photovoltaics-vs-nuclear-power-on-mars/

Solar might be more efficient than nuclear energy to supply power for a six-person extended mission to Mars that will involve a 480-day stay on the planet’s surface before returning to Earth, according to new US research.

APRIL 29, 2022 EMILIANO BELLINI   Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have compared how PV or nuclear energy could power a crewed outpost for an extended period on Mars and have determined that solar offers the best performance.

“Photovoltaic energy generation coupled to certain energy storage configurations in molecular hydrogen outperforms nuclear fusion reactors over 50% of the planet’s surface, mainly within those regions around the equatorial band, which is in fairly sharp contrast to what has been proposed over and over again in the literature, which is that it will be nuclear power,” said UC Berkeley researcher Aaron Berliner, noting that two energy sources were compared for the power supply of a six-person extended mission to Mars involving a 480-day stay on the planet’s surface before returning to Earth.

The US team considered four different scenarios: nuclear power generation with the miniaturised nuclear fission Kilopower system, PV power generation with battery energy storage, PV power generation with compressed hydrogen energy storage produced via electrolysis, and hydrogen generation with compressed hydrogen energy storage (PEC).

In our calculations, we assumed a capacity factor of 75% to account for the solar flux deviation throughout the Martian year and sized energy storage systems to enable 1 full day of operations from reserve power,” the group explained. “We then calculated the carry-along mass requirements for each of the power generation systems considered.”

The scientists found that, of the three PV-based power generation options, only the photovoltaics-plus-electrolyser system outcompetes the nuclear system based on carry-along mass. They also said that the optimal absorber bandgaps for the PV systems depend heavily on the location on the surface of Mars, the total depth of the air column above a given location, gradients in dust and ice concentrations, and orbital geometry effects that cause different effective air column thicknesses for locations near the poles.

In our calculations, we assumed a capacity factor of 75% to account for the solar flux deviation throughout the Martian year and sized energy storage systems to enable 1 full day of operations from reserve power,” the group explained. “We then calculated the carry-along mass requirements for each of the power generation systems considered.”

The scientists found that, of the three PV-based power generation options, only the photovoltaics-plus-electrolyser system outcompetes the nuclear system based on carry-along mass. They also said that the optimal absorber bandgaps for the PV systems depend heavily on the location on the surface of Mars, the total depth of the air column above a given location, gradients in dust and ice concentrations, and orbital geometry effects that cause different effective air column thicknesses for locations near the poles.

April 30, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable, space travel | Leave a comment